There's no shame in being taught how to play with your child. We all grow up, and as most of us don't go on to work with children, it's easy to forget how to join in with them.
One of the first things I teach the families I work with is how to get alongside their child and do what they do. Here's why.
We all form connections and friendships by doing something together. We bond over a shared love of a TV show or we meet our friends to shop. It would be WEIRD if you went out to dinner with a mate and they just watched and talked at you whilst you ate, but didn't eat themselves. Sharing the same activity creates more language opportunities and it puts people at ease.
Watching your child and commenting is GREAT but this is better. If you can take some of the parts of your child's activity or something that's the same, and then join in and do what they do - you're immediately making a connection. So if they have a car then grab your own car. If they're colouring in - get your own paper and hold some of the pens. Lego - get a handful of blocks. They're biking in circles? Get on the track and be the the pit stop bike-fixer!
When you join in and do exactly what your child is doing, your child gets to lead the game - that always feels good! Don't try and change the play in any way. This is hard - especially because we're older so we know a BETTER way to build a tall tower or a SMARTER way to make put the train tracks together. Don't take over - just join in. You can talk about what they're doing, talk about what you're doing, maybe try to do something together so that you're taking turns. Playing like this is going to make you feel involved and help you to remember how to play like a child again! You'll feel so much more engaged with your little one and empowered by your connection-making skills!
WHAT IF MY CHILD DOESN'T LIKE ME TO JOIN IN?!
Get your parts and sit a little further away. Make comments and do as they do. They'll still be looking over at you to suss what you're doing and you'll feel more connected than you would if you were kicked out of their activity.